Boo! Get ready for the spookiest time of the year—that’s right; Halloween is just a week away. So have you picked out a pumpkin to carve into a jack-o’-lantern yet? Here are a few timely tips that’ll help you get the job done just in time for trick-or-treat night frights:

  • Liven things up this year, and choose a pumpkin that’s not perfectly round or evenly colored. You can use the imperfections to give monstrous character to your design.
  • Add a notch to the pumpkin’s top when you remove it to make a lid. Otherwise you’ll have a devil of a time remembering which way it goes on.
  • When you’ve decided on your design, draw it on the pumpkin’s surface with a dry-erase marker so you can wipe away any stray marks after you’re done cutting.
  • Ice cream scoops are ideal tools for scraping out the pumpkin guts, and paring knives are just the ticket for cutting out the facial features.

Once your pumpkin is carved to perfection, find a place of horror—er—honor for it on your front porch. And when it’s time to clean up the mess, don’t throw away those pumpkin seeds! They’re a good, concentrated source of zinc, a critical virus-fighter. Separate the seeds from the pulp under running water, then spread them on a cooking sheet in a single layer. Coat them with non-stick cooking spray, then sprinkle them lightly with salt. Bake at 325°F for about 25 minutes or so, until toasted. Then gobble ‘em up!

For more tummy tempting ideas that’ll keep you in the pink of health, check out my Giant Book of Kitchen Counter Cures—free for 21 days.